You’ve finally done it! You look at your completed manuscript that’s gone through what feels like a million rewrites and you’re ready to go to print. This is an incredible moment in any author’s career, so take a deep breath and reward yourself. However, you won’t have long to rest. As an indie author, you’re going to need to promote your book, and with approximately a million books published per year, this can be a very daunting task. There are people who specialize in book publicity that can help you along the way, but here are a few tips to help you start planning.
Stick to a Budget
An unpleasant truth about writing books that’s frustrating but needs to be addressed is that several first-time authors don’t make back their investment in their book due to lack of publishing know-how, book marketing, author notoriety, and the sheer number of books published per year. However, that’s no reason to be discouraged; building up your author brand, upping your understanding of the publishing industry, and investing in good book publicity will help tip you into the black over time. This may not happen on your first book, so when you’re budgeting for book promotion, consider what you can reasonably afford without it causing extreme stress. Book marketing and publicity can be expensive, but both you and your publicist will have a much happier relationship if you choose a more targeted plan rather than overextending yourself.
Allow Yourself Enough Time to Promote Your Book
One thing that often surprises authors, especially those who hire publicists, is how much time it takes you, the author, to promote a book. You go to bookstores and sign books. You call in to radio interviews and drive to TV studios. You write guest articles and answer journalists’ questions. On top of all that, you probably have a social media presence, an author blog, and an email newsletter. This is a huge amount of work, even if all the coordination, pitching, and book mailings are being handled by your publicist. Make sure to allow ample time to promote your book. This may mean that you need to move your launch date because you will be out of the country for a month with limited communication or you have an important conference to prepare for your day job that will require overtime work. It’s also important to note that most publicity campaigns need to start around three months before your launch, so make sure to get in touch with publicists well before that point if you’re planning on going that direction.
Know Your Limits
You don’t have the resources and connections to do a twenty-five-stop cross-country book tour? Then don’t do it. You don’t need to compare your debut indie YA campaign to a John Green book tour or a Harry Potter release. Every author has things they love doing and things they hate doing, can’t afford, or don’t have the network for. If you don’t know anyone in a city, then don’t feel pressure to spend money traveling there to do an author event. Look at the things you can do rather than the things you can’t, and allow yourself to be successful by setting reasonable goals for your book.
Ask for Information
Of course, there’s the obvious way to get help for your book promotion—hiring help. But before that, talk to author friends or your writers’ group about what they did for their books, how it worked, if they would do it again, any problems they ran into, how much it cost, and who they worked with. Go into these conversations looking for new information that can help inform your decisions about the best publicity approach for you. Publicity is not a one-size-fits-all thing, so you need to take time to evaluate what you want and what goals are most important to you. One of the best things about being an indie author is that you have the power to decide what you want to do, so take the time to figure it out as you develop your budget.
Budget for Books
Here’s one area where being an indie author can be a touch more difficult than a traditionally published author—Advance Review Copies. Indie authors cover the costs of creating pre-publication review copies to send to magazines, bloggers, reviewers, etc., a cost that was traditionally footed by the publisher. Don’t panic; with the popularity of e-books, fewer print ARCs are required for publicity, and some reviewers actually prefer e-books. However, there are many people who will only take a print ARC, and this is an additional cost that you need to consider as you budget.
Setting out on a book promotion journey can be scary, but budgeting out your time, money, and energy ahead of time can help you navigate the best options for you and your book. Remember, the more planning and information you do on the front-end, the fewer surprises you’ll have once you get going.